Insomnia in children: When are hypnotics indicated?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Insomnia in children is a nonspecific impairing symptom that may be the result of normal developmental changes, psychosocial duress, a sleep disorder, a psychiatric disorder, other medical disorders, substance misuse, or an adverse effect of medication. Careful clinical assessment of insomnia in children may include the use of symptom rating scales, laboratory testing, or other medical assessment. Short- and long-term treatment of insomnia in children involves management of etiological factors and associated syndromes. Controlled treatment studies of pediatric insomnia are limited to <10 published studies of psychosocial and/or psychopharmacological treatment in young children. Directive parent education and behavior modification techniques have been effective in short-term treatment of insomnia in young children, and may be the preferred treatment of extrinsic insomnia, as well as an important adjunctive treatment of any insomnia symptoms. Two benzodiazepines [flurazepam and delorazepam (chlordesmethyldiazepam)], one antihistamine (niaprazine) and one phenothiazine [alimemazine (trimeprazine)] have been shown to be effective in the short-term treatment of insomnia in young children, although none of these agents have US Food and Drug Administration approval for pediatric insomnia. Short-acting benzodiazepines may have a role in the brief treatment of pediatric insomnia associated with an anxiety or mood disorder, psychosis, aggression, medication-induced activation, or anticipatory anxiety associated with a medical procedure. However, tachyphylaxis and risk of misuse preclude the long-term use of benzodiazepines for the treatment of insomnia in children. Newer hypnotics, which appear better tolerated than the benzodiazepines in studies of adults, may have a role when combined with psychosocial treatments of pediatric insomnia. Treatment of intrinsic pediatric insomnia may additionally involve chronotherapy or medical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-403
Number of pages13
JournalPediatric Drugs
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Insomnia in children: When are hypnotics indicated?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this